Mike Daisey Raptures the Evangelicals

At least he makes about 90 of them disappear from his audience. Although not before one follower of Christ pours water all over his notes.

Last night’s performance of INVINCIBLE SUMMER was disrupted when eighty seven members of a Christian group walked out of the show en masse, and chose to physically attack my work by pouring water on and destroying the original of the show outline.

I’m still dealing with all the ramifications, but here’s what it felt like from my end: I am performing the show to a packed house, when suddenly the lights start coming up in the house as a flood of people start walking down the aisles–they looked like a flock of birds who’d been startled, the way they all moved so quickly, and at the same moment…it was shocking, to see them surging down the aisles. The show halted as they fled, and at this moment a member of their group strode up to the table, stood looking down on me and poured water all over the outline, drenching everything in a kind of anti-baptism.

Playbill.com also has a rundown on what happened:

It was during a portion of the show in which he was speaking about Paris Hilton that the audience walk-out occurred. Daisey said that based on comments group members made to the front-of-house staff, it was the profanity used in his monologue that caused the uprising. “A number of them,” Daisey said, “expressed that they were disgusted by ‘this filth.’ . . . I’m very good at sensing houses — it’s my job. The audience was unified and warm up to that moment. My suspicion is because they were there together as a group, they were compelled to leave as a group. When a group is together, it doesn’t take that many people to make [everyone] act unreasonably.” Daisey does say that a few members of the group apologized for their behavior as they were leaving the theatre.


Mike Daisey tracks down and talks to the man who poured water onto his work:

His name is David. At the beginning of the conversation there was a lot of silence–long, long silences that neither of us were willing to puncture. First I made him understand what he had done–that these were the only set of notes for the show, how I work with them, what he had cost me in terms of my physical work and in terms of what it had been like that next night to go out in front of them. I needed him to understand what he had taken from me.

He quietly said that he had heard me, and that he understood.

I gradually opened him up by listening, and responding, the one-on-one version of what I do with an audience. We talked about many things, for almost an hour, and step by step, his story emerged.

He has three kids–one is 21, and two are 17–and he’s terrified of the world. Terrified by violence, and sex, and he sees it all linked together–a horrifying world filled with darkness, pornography and filth that threatens his children, has threatened them all his life. They’re older now, but he says he still sees things the same way–and that the only way to protect his children and himself is to lock it all out of his life.

He also said he’s had anger-control issues for years, and sometimes acts of rage come over him–he explodes, and then has to apologize, and doesn’t know why it happens. He tries to lock it down, but it happens, and he’s ashamed of it. I told him that regardless of where we both stand, I felt very strongly that the repression of walling off everything in the world and viewing it all as filth is connecting with these outbursts, and that it isn’t going to work–until you deal with the root causes, and deal with the world, his anger and rage would keep using him.

And he forgives him:

And then I forgive him. He is very quiet–he is obviously shocked. And I tell him, “I want you to remember that a liberal atheist has forgiven you today. I don’t want you to ever forget that, as long as you live, do not forget what happened here. I don’t have God behind me, but I speak for myself, and I forgive you for myself, and for you. Never forget this.”


  1. Makes sense. They’re cowards who shoot, and run so they can maintain, as George Costanza might call it, “hand.”

    I hate organized religion more and more each day.

  2. Wow. Wow. WOW! What impressed me most was Mike’s handling of it all. But how…confusing. As Mike pointed out…they paid, they saw, they…left. If you’re going to go see any art you, well, you at least get some summary of the content BEFORE you pay good money for it.

    Though I won’t use the same word, “hate”, as McGee above, the ignorance and myopia that organized religions fuel, also fuels my distaste of those religions. Which is a shame, because so many of them are so nice on paper, before people get in there and muck them all up.

  3. That is amazing that those religious idiots would do something like this. Kudos to you for being professional and honest and asking them to at least not be cowardly, but then again, you’re dealing with christians…. what can you expect? Their whole dogma is passive-aggressive.

  4. I was enjoying the clip before the bizarre behaviour. If there is a positive side to the depraved actions of the herd, it is that I saw something I wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

    Could you post where you are based? I don’t expect the play to be on in my city, but if I pass by your city I would like to check out one of your shows.

  5. Well, what is to be said?

    Members of many organized [especially religious] groups seem rife with intolerance and tunnel-vision thought processes.

    Kudos to Mike Daisey for being a professional, and kudos to those other people for assisting after that immature and sad human being had to display his childish intolerance.

    Also – Very entertaining anyway!!! 🙂 It’s beautiful to see people move on and the rest of the audience really handled this with aplomb.

    [I wish I lived near NYC because this clip absolutely made me want to see your monologue in person]

  6. I agree with everything said so far — but I’m completely confused as to why a group of 80 crucifix junkies would go to watch a show like this in the first place?

    Did they do it because they intended to stage this walk out as a form of protest, or did they just have no idea what the performance was like?

    Is it normal behavior for herds of religious people to go see plays together? I can understand them going to see The Passion of the Christ, but this just seems kinda odd to me.

  7. Like he said, what a bunch of cowards, no one could even stop and stand up for what they were doing. That guy that poured the water is a coward. That woman that thought she was standing up for herself when she said something to him when they were walking out is a coward. All those religious freaks a cowards. Why pay money for something that you have no idea what it is about?

    Thats the problem with this society, no one knows HOW to stand up for themselves and express their opinion. When someone challenges them to do so, they go into more hiding. Seung-Hui Cho was harassed and bullied in middle school, but the kid never learned how to stand up for himself.

    These people feel that they did something powerful, but they actually gave this guy more attention and publicity, but by not even standing up for what they believe is absolutely PATHETIC. Doesn’t suprise me though…not with those religious freaks…

  8. Two key elements of religion were visible here:

    1)These sheep all moved together. There wasn’t a spark of independent thought.

    2) It wasn’t enough that they hid themselves from Daisey’s message; they had to disrupt his message; they wanted to prevent other people from hearing his message.

  9. Though he does keep his composure rather well, there’s a part when he’s off camera, and he yells, very angrily, “DO IT TO MY FACE”.

    Wonderful irony there with the Paris Hilton stuff.

    I’m going to make that my ringtone.

  10. As a religious nut myself… (sorry, was the term “crucifix junkie”?) …I just have to say that their behaviour is not representative of real spiritual people. Please accept our apology.
    There’s a real streak of crazy in Christianity these days, and we’ve done little to combat it. But please understand this is not what the faith is about, at all.

  11. If they want to pay money and walk out of a show, that’s fine. When they damaged other people’s belongings and interrupted the show for the others, that crosses a line.

    “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians; they are nothing like your Christ.”–Ghandi

  12. The term ‘Christian’ is used here clearly in the Amrerican sense, that is, anybody who wants to call themselves ‘Christian’ can. It encompasses such diverse folks as the scoudrels who disrupted Daisey’s performance; the blood-soaked Geroge W. Bush; the billionaire vitamin and miracle peddler Pat Robertson; and the hate mongering James Dobson– all of them at once Christian and savage.

  13. “I just have to say that their behaviour is not representative of real spiritual people. Please accept our apology.”

    That’s a complete bullshit cop out…Why would you feel the need to apologize for someone who do not represent you?

    The only honest answer is that they DO represent you, and thus an apology would very much be in order — but an honest one; not with excuses about how they aren’t “real spiritual people.” With that first — honest — step out of the way, you can start realizing that what you believe is irrational and ignorant. Things should improve from there…

  14. With that first — honest — step out of the way, you can start realizing that what you believe is irrational and ignorant. Things should improve from there…

    Wow, you’re sort of a jerk, aren’t you?

  15. Has anyone ever stopped to think that perhaps this was an inside job for the sake of art? Sure the h3ll sounds like it. Of course, there is a mob mentality, but do you think that you would have these types of people showing up to this type of show? They sure the h3ll knew they were’nt going to the theater that night to watch Arsenic and Old Lace. Something doesn’t pass the sniff test. It sounds like a performance of Improv Everywhere.

  16. Can somebody please explain to me how we all came to the conclusion that these people were evangelical? I am apparently missing something. Apart from the title of the post, where do you see that they are evangelicals? I found nothing.

  17. “Wow, you’re sort of a jerk, aren’t you?” — FanTent

    Attacking someone’s opinion doesn’t make anyone a jerk — ad hominem attacks on the other hand…

  18. When the minutemen gave a talk, the crowd bum rushed the stage, shouting insults and attacking the people onstage…sounds like group mania affects all kinds and it doesn’t matter what banner they fly under.

  19. Attacking someone’s opinion doesn’t make anyone a jerk — ad hominem attacks on the other hand…

    You weren’t attacking their belief, you were attacking them for holding the belief (there’s a difference), and you did so with a tone that makes it hard not to envision you sneering while you typed it.

    Also, you were attacking someone who was saying something conciliatory and deserved no such insult. Why don’t you target people who deserve it… like the guy in the video?

  20. You weren’t attacking their belief, you were attacking them for holding the belief (there’s a difference), and you did so with a tone that makes it hard not to envision you sneering while you typed it.

    Rubbish. I attacked an opinion; you attacked a person. If you cannot recognize which is which, there is hardly any point for me — or anyone else — to debate you, because that’s either dishonest, irrational.

  21. Eel feather-

    You mean to say that the person who poured the water on Mike Daisey’s paper [and the rest of these people who walked out] are representative of someone who clearly disagrees with their actions? [Im referring to “A AC” who commented above]

    Letting ones emotions get the better of you and making irrational judgments that lead to inappropriate behavior is exactly what the people in this video are guilty of. You may want to take a look at what you typed and consider the parallels ….

    I think A AC’s aim was to explain that the people walking out during the video don’t represent what they believe in, yet they wear “the same flag” and hence the need to apologize.

    No offense intended 🙂

  22. Christians who follow the Bible to not behave like that: The Apostle Paul wrote in Titus 3, “1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.”

  23. I think A AC’s aim was to explain that the people walking out during the video don’t represent what they believe in, yet they wear “the same flag” and hence the need to apologize. — PeterPerfecto

    That’s like telling a victim of police brutality, “Sorry about that — but he wasn’t a real cop, because real cops don’t do that.”

    Or telling a victim of a child-molesting priest that “Sorry! But he wasn’t actually a real priest, or a Christian — because they don’t do that sort of thing.”

    Do you not see the gaping logical flaw in that kind of thinking?

    You can’t simply classify Andrea Yates as a good Christian one day, and the next claim that she isn’t a real Christian at all, the next.

  24. They were not Christians, the were high school students. Actually, I guess they could be Christian high school students – I’m sure there are a few of them out there. They were members of the Norco HS choral department. One of the “adults” in the group was the “baptismist.” Anyway, it’s not a sinister as it sounds, although it certainly was rude and shouldn’t have happened. I suspect the students were fine with Mike’s piece and it was the adults who freaked out.

    Backstage.com has a short article on the whole, sorted affair.

  25. …it’s not a sinister as it sounds…

    I suspect the students were fine with Mike’s piece and it was the adults who freaked out.

    Leading (obviously) impressionable kids through that kind of thing, in the name of something that is supposed to value tolerance, is not sinister? Would you find it more sinister if the agenda they were shoving down people’s throats wasn’t christianity?

  26. Question? WHY DID THEY PAY TO SEE THE SHOW? Didn’t they do their research, or do they just show up at places hoping to not be offended, then go on the offensive when they are? Whatta buncha morons…

  27. I have one simple rule, or 2 actually.

    1)I find out at least an outline of what might go on in a show

    2) use that info to determine whether or not I show up. i can usually tell if I’m going to be offended or not by the information

  28. and even then, there are times where I get offended by a show that I like. I’d rather that happen, than be offended by a show that’s trying to be politically correct

  29. I,am a Father of one of the kids, my son was there .
    One thing most people are missing. It seems to me, Mr Mike Daisey, knew before he posted on youtube, who this group were and came from. In the info area of the clip It states 87 members of a Christian group. why?
    I talk to him about this in messages ,he said he had posted before he knew who they were. It does not look that way to me . The one that puts the clips on youtube, are able to pull their clips, and repost, They can remove comments and block veiwers from making a comment. Which he did to me.
    Day of walk out 4-19-07
    Talked with Cindy L. from the school and the man the poured water David 4-20-07 acording to news papers and his site.
    Youtube shows posted 4-21-07.
    Why? After reading much about Mr. Daisey and hid followers. I think I have the answer.
    Seems as he forgave 1 and punished 86 others lets not count the other 11 adults just the 75 kids that were 14-17 years of age.
    He heard there cries with their comments .
    They were high school kids from s. California .there for choral competition.
    Thanks Jim

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